Downsizing Cherokee Nation - 500 Years Of Politics
Tribute Plaque From the Cherokee People to Will Rogers
Journalist and humorist Will Rogers contributed great amounts of laughter to the world and brought more recognition to Cherokee Nation with his nickname "Cherokee Kid." He was one-quarter Cherokee.
Will Rogers - Bacon, Beans, and Limousines
Ethnic Minorities - The Turmoil Increases
Native Americans have been featured in the news with increasing frequency since one group, the Crow Nation, adopted President Barack Obama as a member upon his election to POTUS in 2008.
Another nation - Lakota - seceded from the United States and proceeded to bill federal agencies for "squatting" on their native-owned lands. Increasing numbers of Native groups are renewing efforts to become US Federally Recognized Tribes or at least State Recognized Tribes, leading to some opposition and controversy.
Turmoil seems to be the signature of the decade for American Native Peoples in the 2011s, additional nations and small groups adding to the boiling pot of issues. Cherokee Nation has plenty of contribution in this movement.
The Cherokee National Holiday is an annual event held each Labor Day weekend in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Map of the Cherokee and Other Native Removals
More On the Attempted Seminole Removal - Now There are Two!
- The Seminole Tribe of Florida is Federally Recognized in Two States
While some readers of Native American histories state that Seminole Nation or the Seminole Tribe is not an official tribe or nation with a real name, they are both incorrect and guilty of repeating false and hurtful information.
Slaves, Freemen and Descendants
Cherokee Nation has joined the fray by deciding as a governing body that the descendants of the Black slaves owned by Cherokees in the post-Civil War era will be removed from tribal rolls and lose all memberships and benefits. This is rather a shocking move and totally in the control of the Cherokee leadership. These leaders voted to include Black slaves in the 18th Century and voted to exclude their descendants without appeal in the 21st Century. In fact, the vote to oust the Blacks was completed back in 2007 and was examined in 2011 for its propriety.
The vote was found to be proper and legal, but the reasons for the ouster are unclear. However, allegations of racism of Cherokees against Blacks have been leveled. Allegations of election tampering or a sort of vote-blocking have also been offered, since the ouster of the Black descendants from Cherokee Nation occurred just before final absentee votes for head Chief were to be received. This sounds rather like the controversy and legal action in the Florida votes for the 2004 Presidential Election.
The Black slaves were taken as Freedmen (no longer slaves after 1866) to Oklahoma along the same Trail of Tears march forced upon the Cherokee by the US Federal Government and the President of 1838. The combined peoples, Native and Black, marched through severe winter and the harshest blizzards in the century, on from the Carolinas into Oklahoma, losing many to exposure and hypothermia, starvation, over exertion, and illness.
Cherokee Nation, until 2011, held the rank of second-largest Native American Tribe or Nation. Without its black descendants, it may fall through the ranks.
DNA and Tribal History
American Red and Black: Stories of Afro-Native Identity
About the Video
American Red and Black: Stories of Afro-Native Identity is produced by Alicia Woods. Made in 2006 this film looks at six Afro-Native Americans from around America. They speak about their thoughts on complex issues of Native and African heritage, ethnic identity, and racism inside multicultural communities.
Cherokee Blood Ties
Cherokee Freedmen and the Dawes Commission
Downsizing the Cherokee Nation
The ex-slaves, or Freedmen at the end of the American Civil War, that accompanied the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma - and their descendants - were on the tribal books as official Cherokee citizens until the about 1980.
However, the Cherokees then amended their membership requirements to mandate direct descent from an ancestor listed in the Cherokee By Blood section of the official Dawes Rolls counting Native numbers (see link below). This action disallowed many of the Black descendants of the original Cherokee Freedmen who could not prove a blood tie-in.
The tribe stripped these former citizens of tribal voting rights and of their citizenship, while the controversial legal actions associated with this movement continued to 2007 and 2011. At the same time, harsher backlash began to occur in 2011 when HUD decided to deny Cherokee Nation funding after its Supreme Court tossed the Blacks from membership.
HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) funds already on deposit to the tribe were frozen to the tune of a denied $33,000,000 withdrawal attempt in late summer 2011.
Additional lawsuits may be pressed, like the example in the link to the right.
Lawsuits and Bills
- Lucy Allen vs. the Cherokee Nation
- H.R. 2824 [110th]: To sever US relations with the Cherokee Nation
A bill in the U.S. Congress: To sever United States' government relations with the Cherokee Nation ...
The 1896 Dawes Commission Index listed 14,000 individuals in the Five Civilized Tribes of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Nations. Blood quantums were not included.
Interesting Information and Implications Of Cherokee History
- Famous and Inspiring Cherokee People
Growing interest in researching family genealogies and in related television shows such as "Who Do You Think You Are?" that trace historic roots of top-name stars are uncovering links to Native American Nations never known to some of their descendant
- The Cherokee Nation Home Page
The official homepage of the Cherokee Nation features news, cultural and historical articles, an events calendar and other links.
- Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (U.S. National Park Service)
On and Off a Slave Ship
It is a shock to some Americans that the Cherokee Nation owned plantations in the American South before the Civil War and owned Black slaves to work on these farms. This is the surreal fact that comes as a surprise. Native North Americans in the Great Lakes Area also owned some farms and slaves as well.
"Whites" first captured male Native Americans to use a slaves, but could not control them. The Europeans then captured Native women, whom the Native men freed and returned to their villages. The weak and ill Black Africans from the slave ships were easier to control (reference: logs from the non-fiction 50 Days on Board a Slave-Vessel) - easy enough to control that both whites and Native Americans took ownership.
For many Native Americans, slavery was temporary custody of the captured until an amount of work as obtained from the captured or the person was adopted by the superior nation; but such was not always true, nor for all nations. The larger slavery movement among Native Americans was not limited to the South, since members of the Iroquois Confederation also owned slaves in what became New York State and nearby American Colonies.
This seems a sad commentary on the treatment of nationalities, one against another, in our reputed "melting pot" nation. Racial tensions indeed proved active in the 21st Century.
© 2011 Patty Inglish
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